July 15, 2023  •  The Communicator July-Aug-Sept 2023  •  By Kurt Freeman, PPPWU President

Hello, members of the Printing Packaging & Production Workers Union of North America!

We’re about to begin a new chapter in the long and proud history of our union.

By now, you probably know how we’ve reached this point.

Last year, the Teamsters served notice that they would no longer honor the 2004 merger agreement that brought the GCIU into the Teamster orbit.

We tried our best to reach an accommodation with the new Teamster leadership team of General President Sean M. O’Brien and General Secretary-Treasurer Fred Zuckerman but they were determined to scuttle the relationship.

Reasons remain vague. Without offering evidence, Teamster officials complained that an autonomous GCC was not to the IBT’s advantage. We were offered only two choices – surrender our precious autonomy or depart the IBT by Dec. 31, 2022.

We brought the matter to court and are in the process of reaching a final resolution through arbitration. But let’s leave the past behind. At every level of the PPPWU, we are looking toward the future with excitement and committing ourselves to the same high quality of service members have come to expect.

Our bright and appealing new logo, designed by Katie Schneider of Appletree MediaWorks, Kalamazoo, Michigan, a shop covered by District Council 3, represents the union’s three main sectors and symbolizes a labor organization already in high gear and ready to roll.

While we are at the threshold of a new era, some things will remain the same.

Dues remain the same. Pensions are secure. Union professionals with decades of experience – and who know our industry inside and out – are standing ready to assist at the bargaining table and beyond.

Our mission remains the same: To provide the best contracts so members and their families can enjoy the secure, middle-class lives they

But let’s be clear: There is hard work ahead.

Alejandro Guzman, our full-time organizer, is busy on many fronts but no single individual can be expected to build and sustain union ranks. That has to happen at the local level. We all must be alert to organizing possibilities – seek out opportunities and seize the moment.

Union membership has been slipping for decades. At the PPPWU, we must be dedicated to reversing that trend. Public support for organized labor is on the rise and young people are showing particular interest. We must not let this moment pass.

That will be a central part of my message at our Las Vegas convention in late August – organize, organize, organize. The convention represents a historic moment for the union – the first national gathering of the PPPWU.

Delegates will plot a course for our independent union, vote on an amended constitution and by-laws, nominate and elect an international leadership team – president, secretary-treasurer, and regional general board members – and address a variety of other important matters.

Leaders will sharpen their skills and discuss issues most pertinent to the print, packaging and production industries. Outside regular sessions, hallway conversations allow old allies to renew friendships and catch up on news at the local level.

These are exciting days for our union. With a new name comes a new sense of purpose and dedication. So let’s celebrate the PPPWU and its thousands of dedicated, hard-working members. Our labor union has a distinguished history of more than 100 years but the best is yet to come.

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